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So you've picked out your stuff: you've got your camera gear, you've got your lenses, you've got your accessories, you've got whatever computing solution you want if you're going to take one at all; now you need a bag to put it all in. Choosing a bag is not as simple as it may seem at first. There are a lot of different things to weigh. You need a bag that can carry all of your stuff. You need a bag that's comfortable enough for the long haul and one that allows you the access that you need when you need it to get to specific pieces of gear. There are two categories of bags. There are shooting bags; those are the bags that you actually use when you are out shooting.
They typically are smaller. They're the bags that you use more frequently. They carry kind of a subset of your stuff. Then there are luggage bags. Those are the bags that use to get all of your stuff, including your shooting bag, to wherever it is you're going. You may even need both a shooting bag and a luggage bag or if you're real picky like me, you may need dozens of bags. Anyway, before you can start your bag selection you need to know exactly what it is you're going to be taking. Obviously, you need to know what gear you have before you need to know what--before you can find out what kind of bag you need to put it all in.
There are few different questions to ask yourself before you start this process. First of all, are you flying? If you are, then you need to consider are you checking bags, are you carrying bags on, are you doing some combination of both? Obviously, you don't want to check your fragile camera and computer gear, both because it could get damaged and it might get lost. But you might have more camera gear than you can carry on. So, if that's the case, then you might need a sturdy bag to put some of the excess in. I typically carry as much camera and computer gear, as well as other things, on the airplane with me.
So I've got all the stuff that I'm too afraid to check, plus maybe my MP3 player and my Kindle and the other stuff that I want just during the flight. And then all my other luggage I check. And sometimes that includes may be some extra flashes or batteries or things like that that aren't such critical pieces of gear and aren't so fragile. You need to think about, are you going into potentially bad weather? Is water going to be an issue, is dust going to be an issue, or are those not a concern at all? You also want to think about, are you carrying any other luggage that's going to really put an impact on the carrying system that you might want.
You want a backpack, you want a shoulder bag, you want wheels. If you've got another piece of luggage to manage, then that may really weigh on that decision. So, before we get started on looking at these different bags and these two different categories and what sits in them, I want to offer one other piece of advice. I hear a lot of people talking about risk. They're afraid to take certain pieces of equipment into certain situations. I'll hear people say "Well, I don't know that's a really bad crime area. I'm not going to take my nice gear." My attitude towards that is, any area that's sketchy enough to put your gear at risk is probably full of really interesting pictures.
Now, that's a very personal decision. It can impact the bag that you're going to carry. That's just up to you to decide. I would argue that you probably got interested in photography, though, because you really wanted to see more of the world. So, don't be too afraid to take your gear with you. I've traveled all over the world in some pretty sketchy situations and never had a problem. I also know that my gear is ensured, so that's something else you want to maybe check into before you go. Check your renters insurance or homeowner's policy or something and see if it covers your camera gear and other computer stuff that you might be taking. All right, let's look at some bags.
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